Galería Elvira González is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in Spain of Uta Barth, the LA-based German photographer. Forming part of the Off PhotoEspaña Festival, the show features fourteen works from three different series: …and to draw a bright white line with light; Compositions of Light on White; and her most recent suite of work, Deep Blue Day.
In keeping with her signature operating methods, Uta Barth takes a simple observation—the tenuous light filtering through a curtain—and turns it into a complex perceptual experience. The artist modifies everyday domestic spaces in ways that are nearly imperceptible, transforming them with her camera into fertile ground for exploring subtle changes of light and atmosphere. While photography generally seeks a fixed subject matter, Barth focuses her attention elsewhere: as the artist told critic George Stolz:
“I am interested in nuances, in subtleties, in the ephemeral, in everyday information and overlooked views. I want to make images that are purely of light, images of negative space, of the volumes of space instead of the walls that contain it, images that capture and slow down time, slow down our process of engaging with art as well as change how we interact with what we do and see every day.”
The body of work …and to draw a bright white line with light came about from an exploration of the atmospheric and the incidental. Conceived for her solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011, this sequence of photographs, presented in diptychs and triptychs, traces a wavering band of light as its slowly winds its way across the curtains of the artist’s home over one single afternoon. Taken together, the images of such an ordinary observation are transmuted into a lyrical study of the passage of time, intensifying our sensitivity to subtle changes and our awareness of the very act of seeing.
Clearly resonating with …and to draw a bright white line with light, the series Compositions of Light on White(2011) comprises quasi-minimalist works depicting spaces of Barth’s bedroom converted into Mondrian-like compositions by the evening light that, during only a single week of the entire year, falls perpendicular to the geometry of the room’s spare white built-in closets and drawers. By gradually opening and closing the window blinds, the artist directs grids of filtered light so that here the furniture, instead of the curtains, co-opts the shadows from the window to create geometric abstractions.
This compositional play produces delicate works underpinned by a strong sense of geometric formalism, further accentuated by the interplay between flat, painterly abstractions of light and sudden changes in volume and depth that undermine our visual reading of volume and space.
In the final series, Deep Blue Day, 2012, the artist returns to the curtains once again, but this time making her agency more open. Here, her hand enters the picture frame and visibly takes control of the light itself, regulating its flow by opening the curtain and rearranging its folds.
Deep Blue Day includes photos, inverted in cobalt blue negative, of images taken a few seconds apart. Besides speaking to the basic photographic form, these negative images make details of the photo in positive more perceptible, such as the texture of curtains’ linen, while also bringing to mind the act of drawing or calligraphy.
“I suppose I want to entice people to slow down and spend time experiencing the work, but I actually want more than that; I want people to deeply tune into their own perceptual experience and to carry it from the work onto the walls of the room, the windows in the gallery and the world they live in thereafter.” (Uta Barth, interviewed by George Stolz)
Uta Barth (Berlin, 1958) lives and works in Los Angeles and has had exhibitions in New York, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Dusseldorf and San Francisco. Her work is represented in some of the world’s major contemporary art collections such as Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jumex Collection, Mexico; and the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami.